Ah, the linebacker position. Despite the lofty numbers that J.J. Watt produced from the defensive end spot, linebackers are still the glamor boys of the Individual Defensive Player (IDP) format. They are the quarterbacks of IDP lineups, if you will.
Even the most casual football fan would recognize names such as Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher. The same can't be said for Jared Allen, Roman Harper or any other high producing defensive lineman or defensive backs in the league.
A solid linebacker corps is essential in having a successful IDP fantasy season and the position generally runs deep with fantasy point producers but precious few reach the lofty level of top-tier elite players.
The league wide shift to a more RBBC (running back by committee) approach has altered the way running backs are looked at and drafted in today's fantasy realm. And the IDP side of the ball has also seen a shift in how often and when certain positions should be targeted in fantasy drafts.
The specialization of the linebacker position has made it a smart strategy to draft as many high point producers at the position as early as possible. Distinguishing three down players from those that leave the field on passing downs is vital when examining and then ranking linebackers.
Some situational players may be poised to take that next step to an every down role and being ahead of that curve can exponentially help an IDP owner to dominate their league.
So, let's take a look at a few linebackers that are ready to step into fantasy stardom and lead IDP teams to 2013 glory.
Perry Riley, ILB, Washington: Riley has been rock solid since replacing Rocky McIntosh at inside linebacker prior to Week 10 of the 2011 season. In the 25 games that Riley has appeared as a full-time player, he has amassed more than 200 combined tackles.
Due to injuries suffered by Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker, Riley was also utilized in quite a few blitz packages last season, as Washington had to get creative with ways to generate pressure on the quarterback. He responded with 3½ sacks while also holding his own in coverage and was credited with seven passes defended.
Riley is the heir apparent to London Fletcher, if and when, he does finally decide to retire (I'm not holding my breath while waiting for that) and is due for a big bump in fantasy value once that does occur. At 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, he is a slightly bigger version of Fletcher, and, once he takes over as the lead man in the middle, he can...